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Republic Teen to Participate in National Special Olympics for First Time

Shelley Antle
Shelley Antle/Credit: Shelley Antle Donation Page

This June, 18-year-old Shelley Antle is slated to perform at the U.S.A. Special OIympics in New Jersey. As KSMU’s Julie Greene reports, after several performances at the state level, this will be Shelley’s first time participating in the national event.

Julie Antle took Shelley in as a foster child when she was just an infant, and doctors didn’t expect her to live long.

“She was four months old and had only gained 3 pounds since birth. Her skin color was gray. She had no emotions. We had her for two weeks before we even heard a sound out of her,” Antle said.

During this time, Shelley was already battling a heart condition called QT prolapse. Then, when she was around eighteen months old, she had an episode.

“She was making good progress. She was a little behind kids her age, but then all of the sudden one day, she just started screaming, and our whole world came to a stop. She lost her language. She lost everything. They really don’t know what caused it. She had a hard road to climb, and she did it,” Antle recalls.

A few years later, Shelley was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and a seizure disorder.

Prior to her tenth birthday, her mother, Julie, decided to enroll Shelley in the Missouri Special Olympics. Julie had heard a success story from an individual with Down Syndrome who attended school where she taught. Shelley’s mother claims enrolling her in the state Games was the best decision they’ve ever made.

“When she goes to Special Olympics, she’s accepted for who she is. The Special Olympics has just been a Godsend for us. She’s built confidence in herself. It helps them know that it’s okay to be different,” Antle said.

As a Special Olympics participant, Shelley has won several gold medals. This year, she will compete nationally after being nominated to take part in a sports selection camp. In New Jersey, Shelley will compete in the softball throw, the 100 and 500-meter power walk, and the standing long jump.

Shelley will join 126 other participants from Missouri, but she is the only competitor from the Springfield area. Every competitor has raised money in various ways including car washes, bake sales, and through matching funds from businesses.

The majority of the funds for Shelley’s trip will come from a fundraiser hosted by her current employer, McDonald’s in Republic. Supervisor Ryan Blumenstock says 20% of all sales between 9a.m. to 11p.m. on Thursday will go towards Shelley’s trip.

You can learn more about Shelley’s goal or make a donation by clicking here.

For KSMU News, I’m Julie Greene.